July 10, 2020 | Posted in The Mermaid & The WolF Adventures

Bellum is a squat woman, with brilliant red, orange, and yellow curls framing her face. She claps her hands together as she approaches, a gaggle of strangers trailing behind her. Some of them are fire sprites, like herself. Others appear to be new-comers to the land, like MeaZea and WooFZee, their heads swiveling around as they try to take in all the wonders of the city.

“Hi,” starts MeaZea.

She’s quickly interrupted by Bellum, who claps again. “Wonderful! More joining our tour! Alright then, just fall into line! We’re about to hit the absolute best part, so you’re in good time!”

MeaZea and WooFZee have little choice but to join the crowd. There’s a fire sprite to one side, and a particularly looking unhappy elk-centaur to the other.

He frowns at MeaZea, asking, stiffly, “drawn in by the hot springs, I suppose?”

“We’re very lost,” admits MeaZea. “We saw someone doing something out with the mountain, and followed them back to here and – “ She gestures at the tour group. “This happened!”

WooFZee snorts. “I don’t understand it. What’s this doing all the way out here?”

The elk-centaur’s gaze flicks to the sprites around them. In a hushed voice he says, “find me after the tour, and I’ll tell you.”

At the front of the group, Bellum raises her voice, picking up explaining the way that the buildings work. “It’s magic, of course. Anyone with eyes can see that! But it’s a very special, very peculiar brand of magic. In fact, we’re the only fire sprites in all the world who have mastered it.”

The fire sprites in the tour group took up a round of polite applause.

Bellum beams at them, over one shoulder. “The magic produces enough heat that anyone can thrive here, no matter their species! But, despite the fact that it is, indeed, fire, it still remains tame enough that someone who isn’t protected by our glorious magic can touch it!”

The fire sprites ooh and aah.

MeaZea whispers, “if they live here, why are they on the tour?”

WooFZee’s ears flick. “I think we’ve stepped into something rotten, MeaZea. These people act strange.”

Bellum claps again, taking an abrupt turn. “And what tour would be complete, without a stop at the pride and joy of New Heat City? Now, if you’ll all mind yourself, please remember! A purchase at the gift shop is mandatory for anyone who takes a dip in the hot springs!”

A massive hole in the ground looms before them, open, like the mouth of an angry beast. Bright banners and flags are strung up around it. Odd little copper lanterns line the path up to the hole, each one filled up with blazing fire.

“Welcome,” announces Bellum, spreading out her arms. “To the hot springs!”

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author

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